Hacking hearing aids

“Hearing aids are becoming a more and more interesting target not only to hack, but also simply to connect them to all kinds of consumer hardware and make the experience more seamless,” said Helga Velroyen, a Munich-based software engineer who has been at the forefront of efforts to modify hearing aids.

Her interest in the topic was sparked when her own hearing started to degrade a few years ago.

For some, this tinkering does not go far enough. Edinburgh-based engineer Martin Ling has set up a project to produce one in which all the parts and the code it runs would be accessible to anyone to work on and improve.

Mr Ling’s early attempts to hack a hearing aid involved dismantling one of his partner’s old ones and wiring it up to a laptop to watch how it handled sound. Now he is working on a design built from scratch.

“We could make a small number of these so we could get hardware in the hands of people that wanted to test it,” he said. “Then as the signal-processing ideas get pinned down we can start to work on miniaturising it.”

Dr Kevin Munro, professor of audiology at the University of Manchester, was sceptical about Mr Ling’s chances of producing a DIY device.

“They are not the sorts of things you can throw together in a garden shed,” he said, adding that hearing-aid makers invested hugely in research and development to produce the gadgets on sale now.

This is from a BBC article, looks like the idea of DIY hearing aids and making programme changes for yourself is starting to go mainstream. Interesting times ahead for the hearing industry!

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